For most of my life, I prided myself on being relatively low maintenance. I was always more likely to go camping than shopping, hated the idea of asking for help (especially if it meant playing the “damsel in distress”), and tried to be the kind of person who never needed too much of anything from anyone.
I thought this made me the best kind of friend, sister, daughter and even girlfriend anyone could ever ask for. I was so easy to be around, I thought. I never took more than I gave. I never took much of anything.
Who wouldn’t want to be friends with me?
Then, one day during my first year of marriage I got into an argument with my husband.
It was the same argument we’d rehearsed a hundred times before (isn’t this how it happens? We could almost read from a script). I admitted I’d been feeling a little bit neglected and invisible. He asked me why I hadn’t said something earlier, and I blubbered something like, “I just don’t want to be a burden to you!”
This time, when I said that, something clicked for him, and he told me something different than he’d ever told me before.
“Go ahead,” he insisted. “Be a burden to me. I dare you.”
Suddenly, in that moment, I realized my tendency to pretend like I didn’t need anything from him, or from anyone else, wasn’t healthy. It didn’t make me low-maintenance. It made me a liar. Because I did need something from him.
I needed him to love him and care for me as much as I loved and cared for him.
And in order for him to do that, I had to admit I needed something.
That morning, for the first time in our marriage, my husband made me pancakes. And you know what I learned? I learned my husband knows how to make really good pancakes. Pancakes with lots of chocolate chips, just the way I like them. And also, perhaps more importantly, I learned that he really liked making them for me.
I’m not a burden just because I need something. That’s what I’m learning.
We all need things, want things, and are hungry for things (like pancakes). Relationships take maintenance. People take maintenance. And when we try to act like we don’t, one of two things happens to our relationships: The first option is that we grow resentful. The second is that we become invisible.
In both of these scenarios, our relationships wither and die.
A relationship requires two people to function — two people who want things, need things, feel things and think things. If one disappears, the relationship ends.
So go ahead, be high maintenance. Hopefully while eating pancakes.